AUCTIFICUS AEQUALITAS

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  1. Avatar M.A.
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    Low-income workers are likely to be dual-income families, or have dependent children tied to a divorce or broken up relationship.

    They are therefore less mobile. It’s one thing to uproot the family when the primary wage earner is moving for a better job, and the wife/kids follow. It’s quite another to uproot the family and not know if the wife will be able to find another job, or move far enough away to not be able to see the kids on the weekends.

    Families with a husband or wife tied up in grade-school education are even worse off. Teachers have to get certified for individual states, which is a two-year process and as fast as republican state governments are hacking away at the educational system they despise so much, finding a job as a licensed teacher isn’t a remotely hopeful proposition.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Kimmi
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      says:

      Old news Kimmi, but thanks for the link (actually any links from you would be a huge bonus). I didn’t get into it (tried and failed to keep the word count below 1500) in the OP but the issue isn’t so much manufacturing per se, but the skills required to participate in the new manufacturing. Someone who can show up stoned and hungover and screw the same 4 screws into the never ending assembly line of goods had better already have considered a new line of work. Robots do it faster, cheaper, better and they never go on strike or call in sick. Those who can competently manage and program said robots will do extremely well, earning well into the six figures, but yes the manufacturing sector that was built in America on the backs of unskilled foreign workers doing mundane, dangerous repetitive work is long gone.Report

  2. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
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    It’s strange, when I graduated HS in the early 90’s, I had a high physical mobility (everything I owned fit in my car), but low job prospects (no one will pay to move an unskilled HS graduate anywhere, except his parents, and only insofar as it gets him out of the house so the old hippies can run around in the nude & smoke weed again).

    Now, I have the ability to command a relocation package of an employer sufficient to move my entire household, but my mobility is hampered by a different problem – an underwater mortgage. I wonder how much of our current lack of economic recovery is due to the fact that people are unable to relocate without being willing to A) become an absentee landlord, or B) take the credit hit to do a Short Sale or suffer a Foreclosure?

    I mean, I keep hearing about how companies want to hire, but can’t find skilled workers. Such a situation would increase the draw of businesses to areas where you have lots of educated people who are stuck.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      says:

      Plenty of businesses moving to pittsburgh, which has one of the most educated workforces in the country.

      And yes, the underwater mortgages are pulling people down. But CalculatedRisk says we’ve hit bottom, so at least there’s that.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      says:

      Mad, you make some excellent points (as does MA above and Will below). The happiest days of my life were when all my possessions fit in the back of my little Datsun pickup truck. Reminiscing with my friend, worth at least 200 times what I am, he said essentially the same thing, he was happiest when everything he owned fit in an Econoline van. Money /= happiness, money might equal security and that’s about it.

      The end of the WSJ article talked about a little-used law that might be useful: The government already provides a limited relocation allowance as part of Trade Adjustment Assistance, an obscure federal aid program that helps workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade. It is time to extend the allowance to include all workers receiving unemployment insurance So if you’re unemployed because your job was outsourced maybe you can get some relief from this program.

      I mean, I keep hearing about how companies want to hire, but can’t find skilled workers. Such a situation would increase the draw of businesses to areas where you have lots of educated people who are stuck. Too bad those companies can’t just pick up and start a big plant like Boeing (barely) was able to do. Fortunately that didn’t stop Obama for taking credit for it, even though his NLRB fought it.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      says:

      Mad, you make some excellent points (as does MA above and Will below). The happiest days of my life were when all my possessions fit in the back of my little Datsun pickup truck. Reminiscing with my friend, worth at least 200 times what I am, he said essentially the same thing, he was happiest when everything he owned fit in an Econoline van. Money /= happiness, money might equal security and that’s about it.

      The end of the WSJ article talked about a little-used law that might be useful: The government already provides a limited relocation allowance as part of Trade Adjustment Assistance, an obscure federal aid program that helps workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade. It is time to extend the allowance to include all workers receiving unemployment insurance So if you’re unemployed because your job was outsourced maybe you can get some relief from this program.

      I mean, I keep hearing about how companies want to hire, but can’t find skilled workers. Such a situation would increase the draw of businesses to areas where you have lots of educated people who are stuck. Too bad those companies can’t just pick up and start a big plant like Boeing (barely) was able to do. Fortunately that didn’t stop Obama for taking credit for it, even though his NLRB fought it.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    says:

    This is more a housekeeping issue, but I thought we were posting all of these on the 13th?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly
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      says:

      There was no schedule decided. I’ve got my second draft done, but it’s long and I’m having trouble with the middle part.

      It actually dovetails nicely into this post – great post, Ward – so I might put it up today and hash out the weak sauce in the comments.

      Really, great post, Ward.

      I agree with the “Critical Mass rules” hypothesis. I’m not certain yet that it is systemically linked to localism, though. Broadbase communications are still new. People who say, “Email is so 20 years ago” don’t realize how little of the actual functionality of email is used by the people who use email (and how much of the disfunctionality is also used to keep lots of things still “the way they were” in spite of the fact that there are better ways to do things).

      I think it will be another 20 years before real adoption of the digital universe occurs in a way that could potentially desegregate Critical Mass and Localism.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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        says:

        I’m working on mine, but it’s several days from being done.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jason Kuznicki
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          says:

          Thanks for the compliment(s) Patrick. Sorry I jumped the gun, I’ll be out of the country on the 13th and will likely be completely out of the blogging loop for most of the time. I’m always happy to be “first with the worst” and let you guys all school me with your better posts that I’ll read when I get back. 🙂Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to wardsmith
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            says:

            No big deal, but I too was under the impression we were going to schedule these for after the 12th.

            I am less than half done with mine.

            Wardsmith, great job. I agree completely with this as one of the structural or institutional causes of income inequality.Report

  4. Avatar Patrick Cahalan
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    says:

    I could use a pass-through by an editor. Anybody that wants to get a preview at mine and is willing to give me feedback, the post is in draft form in the admin interface.Report

  5. Avatar Andy Smith
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    says:

    I really don’t understand the Kuznets curve. Wealth and income inequality are of course extremely well-documented in the U.S. and other countries, and have been shown to follow an exponential or power curve law, with the vast majority of people having very low income, and a few having enormous incomes. Moreover, studies have shown that this is related to the connectedness of people–most social networks follow the same power law. You can argue about how much the absolute wealth of people may increase under these circumstances, but the relative picture is pretty well set.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Andy Smith
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      says:

      Andy, for starters let me congratulate you on your excellent treatise on liberal and conservative mindsets. Back in January I had bookmarked a number of the same links such as Kuszewski’s because I was going to write up an OP comparing Liberals, Conservatives and Libertarians. The thing got too long and convoluted so I gave it up as a bad idea (or better put, a good idea badly executed). Of course the subject is a bit too involved for a sub 2000 word OP here anyway and I’m not up to writing a book. Yours, while not book length (yet) is certainly conclusive and I delayed responding to you until I’d had adequate time to read (and digest) your wisdom.

      This link was inadvertently omitted from my OP. An excellent and concise definition of Kuznets Curve from it follows: The Kuznets curve, formulated by Simon Kuznets in the mid-1950s, argues that in preindustrial societies, almost everybody is equally poor so inequality is low. Inequality then rises as people move from low-productivity agriculture to the more productive industrial sector, where average income is higher and wages are less uniform. But as a society matures and becomes richer, the urban-rural gap is reduced and old-age pensions, unemployment benefits, and other social transfers lower inequality.

      Looking at results instead of reasoning has a lot to do with the counter-intuitive reaction to the curve, after all it isn’t working now how could it ever work? But as my link above shows, there are a multitude of contra indicative factors at work, all of which conspire to keep the poor poor and the rich rich. The inherent mobility Kuznets pointed to as rural farm workers migrated to urban industrialized cities has already run its course in the US, where only 2% (and dropping) of the population are still engaged in farming. In China the reverse is true and we’re seeing the local maxima of high inequality there while this migration takes place. That tied in of course to the mobility component of my OP, which was the whole point after all and not the rehashing of Kuznets. You wants ta get richer, you gots to move your feet. 🙂Report

  6. Avatar Andy Smith
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    says:

    For a little more on this, see my article “Same Values, Different Groups. Why Liberals and Conservatives Talk Past Each Other”, at integralworld.net. The issue of inequality as it’s related to network dynamics is discussed in the section “The Law of Power”.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Andy Smith
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      says:

      Andy – This was fantastic. I’d like to shoot you an email at the address you posted hear with, if you have no objections?Report

      • Avatar Andy Smith in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        Sure. Let me just add that I pulled the trigger a little too soon here. Kuznets curve is not a curve of population vs. income, as the power law curve is, but a measure of inequality vs. income per capita. So depending on just what the numbers in the inequality scale are, it might be compatible with the power law curve. However, I still tend to doubt it, because the most inequalities, i.e., the highest valued exponents for the power curves, are generally found in the wealthiest nations. But I should have been clearer that these two curves are depicting somewhat different relationships.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Andy Smith
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      says:

      Andy,

      I too really enjoyed it. As a non conservative and a non progressive, I often disagreed with both sides, or oddly agreed with both sides of your various bifurcations.Report

  7. Avatar Will Truman
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    says:

    I love this post, Ward. Truly. My thought went into a different direction on this subject, but this in particular is a subject that interests me. The inefficiency of having these jobs going unfilled over here while people are desperate for work over there drives me nuts. Because, I mean, there must be a solution for it.

    No, we can’t solve the unemployment problem by moving everybody to North Dakota, but it’s still a net plus above and beyond the job that’s getting filled, because there are multipliers involved.

    But lacking the means to move is an issue. MA also brings up a good point about the reliance on more than one income. On the other hand, lower-income folks tend to have more generalist job descriptions. It’s harder for a married couple of engineers to move because you can’t rely on getting a job within your expertise anywhere you want. If you’re a receptionist or in the service industry, that casts a wider net. So helping out with relocation does seem like a good idea.Report

    • Avatar Rod in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      This is something military families have long had to deal with. Your normal stay is about three years between moves. There’s no easy answers although you’re right about the kind of job the spouse has making a really big difference.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Rod
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        says:

        It’s an issue for me personally, actually. My wife’s career has necessitated living in five places over the last ten years. Next year will be the sixth. With any luck, the year after that will be #7. My luck only ran out with the current move. Prior to that, I was able to find a job everywhere we went. But I’m also a bit of a generalist as far as IT goes, with each job being different than the last. That’s harder for a petroleum engineer to do.Report

        • Avatar Rod in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          As a truck driver I probably have the most mobile job in the world, no pun intended. My spouse spent this last winter with her brother in Wyoming while she took chemo. All I had to do was request home-time at a different zip code than normal. It matters very little where I live so it’s kind of cool living in a low cost-of-living town.Report

  8. Avatar Roger
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    says:

    Wardsmith,

    This article reminded me of your post in the importance of proximity.Report

  9. Avatar Christopher Carr
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    says:

    Nice post, Wardsmith. I love pho, and I’d totally want to live in a city with delicious pho.

    Your point about cities is, I think, exactly wrong. People choose the cities they work in based on what they offer them on weekends. This is why, outside of a few dream schools and my state school, most of the other med schools I’ll be applying to are in Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Christopher Carr
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      says:

      Christopher, “some” people choose work cities by the entertainment value (segue Hanley’s recent post), but those “some” are the upper echelon. You belong there by virtue of being able to apply to medical school. Given the rejection rate, you have to have high grades and strong referrals and demonstrated superior intelligence. That already places you in the 1%, intellectually if not economically (yet). You’ll still be better served (economically) if you ultimately practice in Boston rather than say, Northern Exposure.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Christopher Carr
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      says:

      Boswash is a hell of a place to live right now, particularly as a student. Rentals are through the roof. Ya might be able to actually afford to see a play or two, if you’re in pittsburgh — or do the music scene in Austin.Report

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